The Island’s annual Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week is just around the corner, and the staff members at Music P.E.I. are working harder than a P.E.I. snow plow operator to present the Island’s biggest week in music.
This year’s event takes place from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1, and it promises to be the most ambitious Music Week to date. The schedule is jam-packed with 22 shows, nine signature events, an awards gala and a massive wrap party to cap off the week. On top of that, there are 29 national and international delegates who will be taking part in 12 industry panels and rubbing elbows with some of the best musicians that P.E.I. has to offer.
So what makes 2014’s festivities stand out from previous years? Well, let’s start with the addition of three new signature events: Music in the Malls, Heavyweights and Music P.E.I. Unplugged. These three unique events were created to appeal to the ever-expanding and diverse musical audience on the Island.
Presented by East Coast Music Week, the Confederation Court Mall’s Music in the Mall is a free event that will take place on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. This all-ages event is an excellent opportunity to check out some local talent and will feature performances by Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher, Teresa Doyle, Dylan Menzie and Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, to name a few.
Those who like to walk on the wild side will want to check out Heavyweights. Dedicated entirely to hard rock and heavy metal, Heavyweights will see Hunter’s Ale House transformed into a metal-head’s mecca. With performances by Muckraker, Arrows in the Air and Death Valley Driver, this rock ’n’ roll royal rumble is promised to be so intense it might be necessary to sign a waiver at the entrance.
If Heavyweights sounds a little too intense, check out Music P.E.I. Unplugged. Join Meaghan Blanchard, Tim Chaisson, Dennis Ellsworth and John MacPhee (Paper Lions) as they share the memories and experiences that helped to shape their songwriting talents. There will only be a few tickets available for this event, and they are bound to sell out fast. However, for those who aren’t lucky enough to get a ticket, fear not! Bell Aliant will be taping the event for future broadcast on Community One TV.
In addition to the new signature events, the MPEI staff has made an immense effort to continue to grow Music P.E.I. week across the Island. Last year, Alberton and Breadalbane hosted successful concerts. This year four more rural shows have been added to the Friday Night Live schedule in Belle River, Montague, Kensington and North Rustico.
Combine these with shows in Georgetown, Summerside and Charlottetown, and the result is truly a provincewide festival.
Another big move this year is the change of venue for the gala show. Traditionally held at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, this year’s awards show will take place at the newly constructed P.E.I. Convention Centre. This state-of-the-art facility will be the backdrop for well-known Island comedian and storyteller Patrick Ledwell as he hosts the finale for this week of music. The gala will also feature awards presentations and musical performances by Dennis Ellsworth, Tim Chaisson, Paper Lions, Chas Guay, Ashley Condon, Colour Code and Meaghan Blanchard, among others.
For those who have followed Music P.E.I. Week from its humble beginnings, it is almost unimaginable to think that this single idea has grown into a nine-day event that is recognized as a top-notch industry festival. Best of all, it is right outside the front door. So get out and help celebrate all of this worldclass P.E.I. music.
Tian Wigmore is a singer/songwriter/guitarist based on P.E.I. This year, he is also the conference co-ordinator for Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week 2014. His column will appear in The Guardian for four-consecutive Fridays in January. He welcomes comments from readers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.